Rabindranath Tagore was a Nobel Prize-winning Bengali poet, the first non-European to win the Nobel in 1913. Born in Calcutta in 1867, he grew up in the luxury of Indian high society and began writing poetry at the tender age of eight. His first long poems were published when he was sixteen, and around this time he also began to write novels and dramas.
Traditionally, Bengali literature was based on the rigid structures and forms of classical Sanskrit, but Tagore introduced new verse forms and colloquial language which transformed the genre. He also wrote numerous essays, short stories, novels, dramas and a prolific repertoire of songs and dance dramas. He was a skilled performing musician and artist.
Tagore was a humanist who strongly advocated Indian independence. Although his work was largely unknown outside India, he was instrumental in introducing Indian culture to the West and remains one of India’s most renowned artists.
Tagore died in his childhood home in 1941 – the date of his death is still nationally mourned in India.
Some of Tagore’s works can be viewed online here.